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CyberAlert -- 01/29/2002 -- Bush "Lying" About Enron?

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Bush "Lying" About Enron?; Rather Tied Cheney to Enron Shafting Staff; Couric Rebuked O'Connor on Bush v. Gore; Susteren's Whining

1) President Bush and his policies enjoy overwhelming support in network polls, but ABC and CBS on Monday evening stressed doubts about the administration's relationship with Enron. ABC's Terry Moran noted how "barely over half of Americans" think "the administration acted 'properly' in its dealings with Enron." CBS's John Roberts distorted a CBS poll, asserting it "finds 67 percent of Americans think the White House is hiding something, even lying about it." The percent who said "lying"? Nine.

2) Adopting the hostile terminology of Bush opponents, both CBS's Dan Rather and NBC's Campbell Brown referred to how the Bush team wants to keep "secret" details about the energy task force. Rather went so far as to associate Cheney with Enron's nefarious actions, referring to "Cheney's secret meetings last year with officials of the now bankrupt energy company, some of whose executives made millions while trapping employees into losing money."

3) NBC's Ann Curry couldn't resist the opportunity to get former Senator John Glenn to agree with her that campaign finance "reform" is the answer to Enron.

4) When Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told Katie Couric that it was "inappropriate" for her to comment on the Bush vs. Gore decision, Couric lectured: "That's exactly the word some critics used to describe the decision. Critics who charged the Court had succumbed to politics, forever tarnishing its image and reputation for impartiality."

5) On CNN's Reliable Sources Howard Kurtz pointed out how President Bush was holding Bernard Goldberg's book, Bias. On Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff asked Bush aide Karen Hughes: "Does that mean the President thinks the press is biased?"

6) Greta Van "Whining" Susteren. Her husband told CNN that she left, the New York Times disclosed, because "network promotions featured" Paula Zahn, Aaron Brown and Larry King, "but not her." Her husband also complained that Van Susteren "was treated as a 'second-class citizen,'" citing as an example how CNN didn't get her invited to the White House Christmas party.


>>> Watch Katherine Harris accept at the MRC's "Dishonor Awards," on behalf of Dan Rather, the "Sore Losers Award for Refusing to Concede Bush's Victory in Florida." MRC Webmaster Mez Djouadi has posted a RealPlayer clip of it as shown Saturday night in C-SPAN's replay of the MRC's January 17 event. It's now up on the MRC's home page: http://www.mediaresearch.org
Rather won for his discrediting of Harris: "Nineteen days after the presidential election, Florida's Republican Secretary of State is about to announce the winner -- as she sees it and she decrees it....The believed certification -- as the Republican Secretary of State sees it -- is coming just hours after a court ordered deadline for counties to submit their hand count and recount totals....She will certify -- as she sees it -- who gets Florida's 25 electoral votes....What's happening here is the certification -- as the Florida Secretary of State sees it and decrees it -- is being signed....And after this, it will be, at least in the opinion of the Secretary of State, that the results will be final..." <<<

Correction: The January 28 CyberAlert misspelled the last name of the actress whose book, "Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm," was featured on the January 27 Dateline NBC. Her name is correctly spelled Kim Catrall. For a picture, access her Internet Movie Database page: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Cattrall,+Kim

1

President Bush and his policies enjoy overwhelming support in network polls conducted shortly before his State of the Union address, but ABC and CBS on Monday evening stressed doubts about the administration's relationship with Enron.

While ABC's Peter Jennings acknowledged that Bush has the highest approval rating for any President since 1945 after a year in office, Terry Moran stressed how "barely over half of Americans, 52 percent, are prepared to say the administration acted 'properly' in its dealings with Enron." Moran found it "startling" that "61 percent now say they think Mr. Bush understands the problems of people like them." More below on ABC.

On the January 28 CBS Evening News reporter John Roberts, in a piece on the administration resisting the GAO's demand for energy task force records, asserted: "The battle over documents has taken on new life in the wake of the Enron collapse and revelations about White House ties to the energy giant. A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds 67 percent of Americans think the White House is hiding something, even lying about it, but administration officials today argued there has been no evidence of impropriety."
Ari Fleischer: "For all these reports of drip, drip, drip, everything seems to keep coming up dry, dry, dry."

"Even lying about it?" In fact, the on-screen graphic showed the statement: "Bush administration statements about Enron." The answers: "Hiding something" replied 58 percent, "lying" answered just 9 percent.

Earlier in the day, during the first day back for CNN's Inside Politics since September 10, now aired at 4pm EST, anchor Judy Woodruff asked Bush aide Karen Hughes: "Karen, as we know, Enron is a story that is getting a great deal of coverage these days. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll out today shows, while the President is enjoying very high popularity, 84 percent of the people approving of the job he's doing, it also shows that a total of 47 percent of the people think that the Bush administration did something either illegal or unethical, with regard to Enron. How do you deal with that?"

Jennings teased Monday night: "On World News Tonight, the President has the high approval of a wartime leader. But an ABC News poll finds that Enron threatens."

Jennings opened the show from Washington, DC: "Today, in an ABC News/Washington Post poll, we find Mr. Bush with an 83 percent approval rating -- the highest for any President one year after his election since 1945. There are some warning signs for the President, and one of them is the Enron scandal."

Terry Moran soon explained: "Barely over half of Americans, 52 percent, are prepared to say the administration acted 'properly' in its dealings with Enron, a quarter say not. Democrats are accusing the administration of including secret favors for Enron in the Bush energy plan. The President had a blunt answer to that charge."
President Bush: "Well Enron went bust. Shortly after the report came out Enron went broke."
Moran: "But 70 percent of those polled are demanding the administration fully 'disclose' all its contacts with Enron. The Vice President has refused requests by the General Accounting Office for more information about his energy task force's contacts with Enron and other companies and the President is backing him to the hilt."
Bush: "In order for me to be able to get good sound opinions, those who offer me opinions or offer the Vice President opinions, must know that every word they say is not going to be put into the public record."
Moran: "The President's no-nonsense rhetoric may help explain one of the more startling findings in the ABC poll: 61 percent now say they think Mr. Bush understands the problems of people like them, a stunning turnaround from last summer."

Last July 45 percent thought Bush understood the problems of people like them.

"Democrats are accusing the administration of including secret favors for Enron in the Bush energy plan"? But the plan has been made public, so how "secret" can its provisions be?

2

Adopting the hostile terminology of Bush administration opponents, both CBS's Dan Rather and NBC's Campbell Brown referred to how the administration wants to keep "secret," as opposed to keeping "private," details about who offered advice to the energy policy task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Rather used the word "secret" twice as he went so far as to link Cheney to Enron's shafting of its employees, referring to "Cheney's secret meetings last year with officials of the now bankrupt energy company, some of whose executives made millions while trapping employees into losing money."

Rather introduced the January 28 CBS Evening News story: "Turning to the Enron energy company debacle, there's an unprecedented court battle shaping up over access to possibly key information that's being kept secret by the Vice President. President Bush today backed Vice President Cheney's refusal to give investigators details of Cheney's secret meetings last year with officials of the now bankrupt energy company, some of whose executives made millions while trapping employees into losing money."

During an excerpt from an interview with Cheney shown on the NBC Nightly News, Campbell Brown relayed: "Today the President made it clear he is prepared to go to court to try to keep secret what took place in meetings between the Vice President's energy task force and executives from energy companies, including Enron."

Brown to Cheney: "This is the reality. You are a former oil man, the President's a former oil man, Don Evans, Commerce Secretary, former oil man. So, to a lot of people, it may appear that your friends at the energy companies may have had undue influence when you were developing this."

Cheney noted that the Sierra Club put out 12 recommendations, 11 of which are included in the energy plan. He also pointed out how Enron pushed liberal policies which his task force rejected: "Enron wanted us to support the Kyoto treaty, we said no."

3

NBC's Today brought aboard former Senator John Glenn on Monday to discuss a study he fronted which advocated community service programs for kids in school, but NBC's Ann Curry couldn't resist the opportunity to get the liberal Democrat to agree with her that campaign finance "reform" is the answer to Enron.

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught Curry's advocacy, which took place during the very last segment of the three-hour show, as she changed subjects on Glenn:
"Now let me switch gears for just a moment because I need to ask you about something that's currently in the news today. You know you retired from the Senate after what, four terms, and you said that in a later interview that one of your greatest regrets was not having instituted campaign finance reform. Now in the wake of what we're seeing with the Enron debacle, first of all do you think the chances, do you agree the chances are greater now that we will see that kind of reform?"

He agreed and Curry sought reassurance that the moment for liberal victory would not escape: "Any question though that we can get away without having some kind of reform in the wake of what we've seen with Enron?"

4

Interviewing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for Friday's Dateline NBC, Katie Couric devoted the interview to O'Connor's struggle to rise through the male-dominated legal profession and tales from her upbringing on a ranch, such as her father getting her fiancé to eat bull testicles. Couric deviated into controversial politics just once -- to take a shot at the Supreme Court's Bush vs. Gore decision.

O'Connor sat down with Couric to promote a new book which she wrote with her brother, Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in America's Southwest.

After mentioning how abortion has been a volatile issue before the Court during O'Connor's tenure, but without passing judgment on court rulings, Couric asserted: "Passions ran high again when the Supreme Court found itself casting the deciding vote on the 2000 presidential election."

Couric pressed O'Connor: "Bush versus Gore. I know you don't want to get into details at all but you did join the 5-4 vote to stop the Florida recount and that in essence delivered the White House to George Bush. Can you describe the atmosphere at all, Justice O'Connor?"
O'Connor: "I just think that's inappropriate."
Couric: "That's exactly the word some critics used to describe the decision. Critics who charged the Court had succumbed to politics, forever tarnishing its image and reputation for impartiality."

No more so than Couric long before did to her own image and reputation for impartiality.

5

CNN didn't catch President Bush live as he walked across the South Lawn on Friday morning to Marine One carrying Bernard Goldberg's book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News. But over the weekend and on Monday afternoon a couple of shows picked up on it as Howard Kurtz pointed it out on Reliable Sources and, on Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff asked Karen Hughes if Bush thinks the media are biased.

Kurtz ended the Januar7 26 Reliable Sources, MRC analyst Patrick Gregory noticed, by showing video of Bush with the book: "Before we go, I want to take a look at the current President of the United States, recently photographed -- have we got that picture -- carrying a certain book under his arm. Yes, it's Bias by Bernard Goldberg. Bill Press, I'm going to give you the last word. Does this mean that George W. Bush buys the theory that media are way liberal?"
Bill Press, co-host of CNN's Crossfire, dismissed the concept of liberal bias as a "myth" Bush is using to intimidate reporters: "I think he's sending a message to the media, 'Watch out, because I know you're all liberals. I know you're all against me, and I buy that myth,' which is the oldest myth in the business. There's not a word of truth to it."

Monday afternoon on Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff raised the subject with White House counselor Karen Hughes: "One last question, Karen Hughes, about the press. It was noted by everyone, I think, that the President was carrying a book by former CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg, Bias, when he left the White House the other day. Does that mean the President thinks the press is biased?"

Hughes demurred from upsetting any journalists: "Well, I think he was -- I think some of stories recounted in that book feel a little familiar to him and to those of us in the administration. We were laughing about some of the choices of words that the media sometimes use. But you know, the President has a good relationship with members of the media. He likes to tease the media. He enjoys the jousting and jesting with them. And over all, I think our administration has a good relationship with members of the news media."

6

Greta Van "Whining" Susteren. Citing a letter written to CNN by Van Susteren's husband, the New York Times on Monday exposed how she decided to leave CNN for FNC because the network didn't stroke her ego enough. She was upset by more promotion for other CNN stars and how CNN didn't get her invited to the White House Christmas party.

New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg relayed how the letter "expressed her distress that general network promotions featured" Paula Zahn, Aaron Brown and Larry King, "but not her." The letter also complained that Van Susteren "was treated as a 'second-class citizen.' As an example, it points to the network's failure to secure an invitation for her to the White House Christmas party."

Why send producers, who actually cover the White House, to the party when you could send your egomaniacal prime time star?

Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/) highlighted the January 28 New York Times story by Jim Rutenberg. An excerpt:

Just why did Greta Van Susteren leave CNN for the Fox News Channel when CNN had offered her more money to stay?

The answers might be found in an angry letter sent by Ms. Van Susteren's husband and lawyer, John Coale, to CNN's chairman, Walter Isaacson, before she announced her move earlier this month....

CNN executives were surprised when Ms. Van Susteren decided to leave the network and did not want her to go. But they had paved the way, in part, by showering attention on the network's new star anchors, Paula Zahn and Aaron Brown, while depriving Ms. Van Susteren of the care and feeding top anchors expect, people close to the situation said....

In the end, Mr. Coale wrote, Ms. Van Susteren decided to leave CNN as a "wake-up call" to its managers, "so that CNN will re-evaluate its new environment before it's too late."...

The letter begins with complaints that CNN had done little to promote Ms. Van Susteren's 8 p.m. program, "The Point," though it was the network's second-highest-rated program behind "Larry King Live."

It also expressed her distress that general network promotions featured Ms. Zahn, Mr. Brown and Mr. King, but not her. CNN executives said they gave Ms. Van Susteren ample promotion.

The letter said Ms. Van Susteren was treated as a "second-class citizen." As an example, it points to the the network's failure to secure an invitation for her to the White House Christmas party, which, Mr. Coale wrote, is an important gathering for forging relationships with administration officials. (A CNN executive said the network had concentrated on securing invitations for those who exclusively cover the White House.)...

Mr. Coale wrote, Ms. Van Susteren "has also been troubled about the lack of diversity on the air in terms of anchors and correspondents" and that she was upset that CNN let Bernard Shaw, who is African-American, and Joie Chen, who is Asian-American, leave the network.

The letter was written before CNN hired Connie Chung, an Asian-American, for a new prime-time program, and announced the hiring of Fredricka Whitfield, who is African-American.

The question now is how comfortable Ms. Van Susteren will be at Fox News, whose commentators often rail against "affirmative action police" and "hiring quotas." But Ms. Van Susteren was said to have been wooed by Fox News's promise to give her program the attention and promotion it needs. Besides, the letter said, she just could not bear to stay at CNN.

"She finds this new CNN environment inconsistent with the quality journalism to which she is both accustomed and dedicated," Mr. Coale wrote. "Greta just can't watch anymore."

END of Excerpt

For the full article, those registered with the New York Times can access it at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/28/business/media/28GRET.html

And I count myself amongst those who long ago just couldn't bear to watch Van Susteren anymore. -- Brent Baker


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